IPCC's sixth assessment on Climate Change is out
August 9, 2021 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.
The Guardian: "IPCC report’s verdict on climate crimes of humanity: guilty as hell"
New York Times: "Even if nations started sharply cutting emissions today, total global warming is likely to rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades, a hotter future that is now essentially locked in." (archive).
Time: "'Widespread and Severe.' The climate crisis Is here, but there’s still time to limit the damage."
(previously)
posted by simmering octagon (65 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'd also like to thank Greenpeace and all the other anti-nuclear scaremongers that basically made this inevitable.

Yes, Greenpeace is certainly more culpable than, say, Exxon Mobil or Shell Oil here.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:42 AM on August 9 [31 favorites]


Or the Native American, First Nations, and Inuit groups who are concerned about the deleterious effects of uranium mining or waste storage on their lands. Clearly they are the most responsible for climate change. /sarcasm
posted by eviemath at 8:45 AM on August 9 [17 favorites]


Can we... not immediately launch into "my particular hobby-horse is why we're doomed, so I just wanted to say it's all their faults, and also sucks to have kids"?
Like, I know there's nothing we love more than "Let's pit generational-warfare against indigenous groups against nuclear power against parents, winner gets to say Told You So", but there's a whole lot of meat in the links there and maybe there's something to highlight or respond to from there.
posted by CrystalDave at 8:57 AM on August 9 [41 favorites]


Mod note: Folks... please take a minute to check out the links and engage with the material shared instead of starting up the sort of doomsaying and finger pointing stuff that makes threads impossibly unproductive and unwelcoming.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 9:02 AM on August 9 [37 favorites]


I emailed my representatives at all levels of government saying that my vote will depend on who puts forward a specific, measurable platform with this point in mind (and moving the Canadian 2035 deadline for zero-emission vehicles up):

"From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions. Strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality."

I really appreciate the clarity of the report's headline statements because that was all the time I had this morning.

I commit climate sins on a daily basis, by the way, but this is not stopping me from pushing politicians to understand that this is my number one voting issue.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:06 AM on August 9 [12 favorites]


I'm reading Michael E Mann's book ("The New Climate War", he also publicized the Hockey Stick of pollution) and it is wild to think of all the individual "solutions" that were pushed. Especially on children born after the 1970s. Kids recycling homework and planting a tree on Arbor Day is not remotely as important as building walkable neighborhoods.

I'm very angry working through these links. I'm grateful more writers are calling out the carefully planned disinformation campaigns and anti-climate change "nonprofits" we need to fight against.


Mann recommends:
1.Disregard doom: It is too paralyzing.

2. Let the young lead: Younger adults and kids are getting screwed and we need to listen to their ideas. These kids will make older people uncomfortable because they make them feel shame, like Greta Thunberg's activism.

3. Educate people who want to listen: Ignore people who think environmentalism is an anti-Christian conspiracy. They are basically immune to basic scientific methods and facts. Speak with genuinely interested, but confused people.

4. Change should be systemic: Any politicians who talk about small individual changes are cowards/delusional. See Gov. Abbott's focus on no mask mandates instead of fixing Texas AWFUL energy system. Focus on big fines and other system changes.
posted by Freecola at 9:08 AM on August 9 [33 favorites]


Taking a cue from the optimism thread two days ago, I'd like to post a few articles early in this thread.

BBC: Climate change: Worst emissions scenario 'exceedingly unlikely'
There's never been that much evidence that climate change is going to literally cause the extinction of the human race
The Atlantic: Inevitable Planetary Doom Has Been Exaggerated
the idea that we are in the midst of one of the planet’s greatest mass-extinction events has come to feel like a bedrock truth to many greenies. This framing can make extinction feel like a force too huge and powerful to avert.

That’s just not true.
New York Magazine: We’re Getting a Clearer Picture of the Climate Future — and It’s Not as Bad as It Once Looked
anyone, including me, who has built their understanding on what level of warming is likely this century on that RCP8.5 scenario should probably revise that understanding in a less alarmist direction.
Climate change will be bad, but don't despair! Not only is it not warranted from the facts, but it's also not a good way to confront adversity.
posted by Spiegel at 9:12 AM on August 9 [24 favorites]


I feel like this report basically says that at the individual level, the best focus is harm mitigation or preparation. I'm as optimistic as they come but I don't know how you release a report calling for urgent collective action with a straight face on year 2 of coronavirus. We're going to feel like we have a solution and then half of the people are going to tell the other half to get fucked by their freedoms and around we'll go until it's too late.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:20 AM on August 9 [13 favorites]


Sometimes I think about leaving Alaska. Then I read something like this and figure I’m in the safest place in the world.
posted by kerf at 9:21 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]




I think it is important to keep hope alive that politicians can at least get serious about systemic change. Environmental groups didn't do enough or get coverage of how much of a difference things like pricing carbon, offsets, encouraging electric vehicles and mass transportation are.

Those are policies that aren't as fun to see as kids posing next a newly planted tree that may die on their playground. Not as vivid as watching screaming protesters chain themselves to trees. There's been way too much emphasis on tiny changes and stunts. Those things are easy to make fun or distort by the anti-climate change side.
posted by Freecola at 9:30 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


the idea that we are in the midst of one of the planet’s greatest mass-extinction events ...(is) just not true

I don't wish to sidetrack (much) since it's not the main article and I feel non-human extinction and climate change are largely distinct problems from one another (and +1 for optimism), but ... a lot of the work for that 'not true' conclusion seems to either ignore non-vertebrates or build from the fact that mass population declines are not technically extinctions yet.
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 9:35 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Also good (listening): Gaslit Nation’s Katharine Wilson interview, featuring the former lead author for Project Drawdown, who’s since been multiply active in climate initiatives of various profound kinds.
posted by progosk at 9:38 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Another prediction that The Newsroom (fictional TV show) got right, seven years ago.
posted by meowzilla at 10:00 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


One of the strongest counsels against despair I've found is the idea (very much backed up by the modeling and data) that there is no point at which our work stops mattering. Major tipping point type events are relatively unlikely (and arguably have gotten less, not more likely as we've made bits and pieces of progress on emissions, and understood the underlying systems better), much more likely is a more-or-less linear relationship between CO2 emitted and warming.

This chart from one of progosk's links makes the point really well. It combines socio-economic scenarios (from SSP1, where everyone gets religion on sustainability, to SSP5, where the world basically gives up on controlling emissions) and various emissions targets, expressed as w/m3 of additional radiative forcing.

The difference between a best case scenario, where we make immediate, drastic reductions and get to global net zero emissions some time in the 2050s (SSP1-1.9) and a scenario where we bumble along, making progress in fits and starts, and don't actually get to net zero this century (SSP2-4.5) is about 1.3 degrees of warming by the end of the century. But the difference between that second scenario and one where we say fuck it and go full speed ahead on burning as many fossil fuels as we can while society collapses around us (SSP5-8.5) is 1.7 degrees of warming.

Even if you think that that middle scenario is the best we can possibly achieve, that's still a massive difference worth fighting for. And the space between those scenarios is huge. There is no point at which these fights stop mattering, and no point where we lose the ability to win victories that will make the world more livable for generations to come.
posted by firechicago at 10:19 AM on August 9 [26 favorites]


Everyone else seeing pages and pages of endless screaming too, i assume? Well at least it's accurate.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:43 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


After the last related thread, I was ready to not even click on this one, but the anti-doomsaying I'm seeing here makes me glad I did. Spiegel in particular, thanks for the links.

We're going to get through this. It's going to absolutely suck, and we're going to take casualties and awful harm, and we are also going to get through this. We have the tools and the things we can do; we just need to do them. Sooner or later, we will. If you wonder why I'm so certain, ask what is the other option: just not surviving?

Fuck that noise.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:52 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


There's a xkcd for everything, including global warming.
posted by simmering octagon at 10:56 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


It's been clear to me for a decade or more that the ultra-wealthy are not interested in the disaster mitigation effort. They continue to build their ark of wealth and privilege sure in the knowledge that their children will be safe in the fortified enclaves their money and power will build. The moment that they realize their strategy is failing, they will gaslight the rest of the world into believing that they were fighting the fight all along by touting the breadth of their investment portfolios which will , of course, be full of those companies that have been forced to change in order to survive.

If this pandemic has shown us anything, it's that the left can no longer fight this fight without getting its hands dirty, or planning to go it alone, dragging the right with them if they can, but stepping over them if they cannot. We have to organize and vote with this in mind. We will have to take to the streets and join the Greta Thunbergs in striking against complacency, divesting from the status quo, and acting, for reals, like there is no tomorrow. There are enough of us, that much I do believe.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:01 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Just some quotes from a really clear-sighted, prescient report from 1988.

“the main cause of increasing CO2 concentrations is considered to be fossil fuel burning.”

“However, by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilize the situation.”

Climate impacts could include “significant changes in sea level, ocean currents, precipitation patterns, regional temperature and weather.” It also states changes would impact “the human environment, future living standards and food supplies, and could have major social, economic and political consequences.”

And it concluded that these impacts may be the “greatest in human history.”

The authors and recipients of the report?

Shell.

They knew, just like Exxon knew, they've all known for decades, and have spent the time since prevaricating, denying, funding those who deny for them and bribing politicians not to take the action that's been needed.

History is not going to judge them well. And nor should it.
posted by reynir at 11:18 AM on August 9 [21 favorites]


History is not going to judge them well. And nor should it.

I think you all should be proud of me for not theorizing about whether some far-future archeologists will be able to determine the details enough to write said history.

On a more cheerful note, on topics like this, there are often at least two relevant xkcd strips.
posted by bcd at 1:29 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


the idea that we are in the midst of one of the planet’s greatest mass-extinction events ...(is) just not true

This selective editing completely changed the meaning of the original text. The quote, excerpted above by Spiegel, was:
the idea that we are in the midst of one of the planet’s greatest mass-extinction events has come to feel like a bedrock truth to many greenies. This framing can make extinction feel like a force too huge and powerful to avert.

That’s just not true.
"That" quite clearly refers to the feeling that "extinction [is] a force too huge and powerful to avert," not "the idea that we are in the midst of one of the planet's greatest mass-extinction events." I'm not trying to defend or critique that Atlantic article, but please be careful that you're not putting words in people's mouths.
posted by biogeo at 2:40 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I mean, the paragraph that follows it is:
That’s just not true. As of today, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the conservation status of 128,918 species has been assessed. Of those, 902 have gone extinct since the year 1500. This is absolutely too many. One is too many. But to cause an extinction event on the scale of those seen millions of years ago, in which more than 75 percent of species disappeared, we would have to lose all our threatened species within a century and then keep losing species at that same super-high rate for between 240 and 540 more years. In other words, the concept assumes that we won’t save anything, ever, and that hundreds of years into the future, we will still be as inept at protecting biodiversity as we are now.
The abridged quote you object to seems to me to be a fair summary of the article's position.
posted by Pyry at 3:12 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I prefer to look on the bright side of things and be optimistic, which I realise is not popular with everyone. But I do think the electric car thing is going to happen, and I know that electricity generation is getting cleaner. There are areas where progress is really being made here. Even though we have clearly fucked it up and things are going to be bad, I still have hope.
posted by plonkee at 3:21 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


My personal bar for qualifying as a mass extinction event is a lot lower than 75% of all species.
posted by snofoam at 3:21 PM on August 9


> we would have to lose all our threatened species within a century and then keep losing species at that same super-high rate for between 240 and 540 more years

Lomborg-grade argument.

540 or even 10000 years is fuck-all in geological time, the timescale that matters for mass extinctions.

Also curious how they call it "super high rate" yet somehow expect it to slow down in the near future when the main extinction driver, habitat destruction, is likely to go into overdrive in the coming decades/centuries, not to mention the growing impact of climate change itself. But surely the extinction rate won't get any worse than now, amirite?

I mean, no rock fell from space and wiped out over 90% of all living beings in the span of one year, so of course it can't possibly be a mass extinction, such alarmism.
posted by Bangaioh at 3:28 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


That may or may not be a fair summary of the article's position (I don't entirely agree with the article but I also don't think that's a fair summary but that's not really the point), but it's certainly not what the author said. Selectively editing a quote to change the apparent antecedent of a pronoun isn't fair argumentation, and on Metafilter we already have enough of a problem with people reacting to what someone else claims someone said instead of to what the person actually said. I'm sure it was an honest mistake by Press Butt.on to Check, but this is among the many things that can make conversations about difficult topics more difficult and fraught, and I think it's important to be clear about the distinction between a supposed "fair summary" versus the actual literal words of an author so we don't end up talking past each other.
posted by biogeo at 4:44 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


This is especially important when we're talking about climate change and the IPCC report, a topic where malicious actors have engaged in all kinds of bad-faith word games to try to confuse people about what scientists and activists have actually been saying about the topic for decades now. Powerful interests have weaponized sneaky rhetorical tricks, including deliberate misrepresentations of quotes by climate scientists, and it's worked, and it's killing people. We can't make them stop, but we can try to be better ourselves.
posted by biogeo at 4:49 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Climate change is already happening, and already very bad. But the report explains in detail HOW MUCH WORSE it will be if we don't move as fast as possible to decarbonize, and it makes it clear that we still do have time to avoid those ultra-catastrophic impacts. If you're in the U.S., pressure your representatives about the reconciliation bill now.
posted by pinochiette at 5:30 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Ok biogeo. I was cringing over "non-vertebrates" myself ;)
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 5:33 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Personally the anti-doomsaying vibe makes me feel totally alienated and alone in my grief and despair. That's not anyone else's problem to solve, just an observation of how it feels for me in many of my social circles/communities, including here; people don't like a doomer. The doom feels pretty valid, though, and I long for a space where I can commiserate with others that isn't a bunch of teenagers on Reddit taking it too far.
posted by EarnestDeer at 6:44 PM on August 9 [18 favorites]


EarnestDeer you might want to investigate the growing Deep Adaptation community, which is devoted to "connecting people, in all spheres of life, to foster mutual support and collaboration in the process of anticipating, observing, and experiencing societal disruption and collapse," as well as some of the writings of the movement's founder, Jem Bendell.
posted by PhineasGage at 6:56 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Hey, New Orleans here. Climate been changed. Death is not the end. We have lost so much, and will lose so much more. Lake Charles, as a city, may be gone? At least as we knew it.

But Louisiana, of all places, has a Governor's climate task force tasked with prioritizing equity in its solutions. Shell's representative on that task force regularly sweats bullets. So, you know, Get with your people. Keep Pushing. Make the bastards pay.

And yes, in the US, push for the reconciliation bill!
posted by eustatic at 8:11 PM on August 9 [8 favorites]


Personally the anti-doomsaying vibe makes me feel totally alienated and alone in my grief and despair. That's not anyone else's problem to solve, just an observation of how it feels for me in many of my social circles/communities, including here; people don't like a doomer. The doom feels pretty valid, though, and I long for a space where I can commiserate with others that isn't a bunch of teenagers on Reddit taking it too far.

Talking about your own grief and despair, and looking for others to help you process it, is entirely good and reasonable, and I think you should be able to do that on Metafilter. It is also not the same as doomsaying. Doomsaying is claiming that we are definitively doomed. This is in contrast with the IPCC report, which in summary states: climate change is here, it's bad, we're causing it, and there's still time to mitigate the worst outcomes. It is entirely reasonable to find this scary (because it is), but not strictly rational to conclude from this that we are doomed (because we're not).
posted by Alex404 at 10:18 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I was cringing over "non-vertebrates" myself ;)

Hey, on that, I'm right there with you.
posted by biogeo at 10:26 PM on August 9


You're not alone EarnestDeer. I had a long comment written up that I deleted because I felt it would just be deleted anyways. The tone being set at the top about "not blaming" people, and this weird cultic "positive vibes only" (even if "it's not the worst" it doesn't mean it's not bad. Oh great, only 1.5 meters. We already see what's going on and we're not near the peak.

Anyways I'm shutting up lest I offend the gods somehow.

Just know there are many of us miserable sods out here feeling hopeless with you. My solace is I'll probably be dead before the worst of it hits.
posted by symbioid at 11:06 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


In case you were feeling hopeful remember that this is all happening with a big lag. The effects we’re seeing right now are from the much lower levels of carbon emissions from the 90s. After another couple of decades of deteriorating conditions, when the Arctic ice is completely gone, that is when the effects of today’s much higher emissions will be starting to hit, and that’s even if we stop all emissions today. But by that stage, the jet stream will have stopped, the stable weather conditions that our food supply relies on will no longer exist, and that means that the political and social stability that we rely on for the physical security of ourselves and our families will no longer exist. The most likely scenario is that each year of your life will get exponentially worse until you, personally, are dead.
posted by moorooka at 1:48 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


Yep, totally against doomsaying - seems to be the amplified voices of the happy-clappies, not-real Christians, bad pols and corporations who don't care - most of that's a one-circle Venn. When I was in the church (several) I never understood why all the bits about caring for our home were deprecated, downplayed, can remember holism being spoken of as paganism. I remember too reading of a special cursing upon those who destroy Earth.

This is ours for the long-haul now. Time is over (IMO) for empty hope. More the hope espoused by e.g. Greta et al., DarkMountainProject, and thinkers such as Hannah Malcolm @hannahmmalcolm.

Plant fruit trees, make friends, learn tools for thinking, and old (and new) crafts and skills, and believe in being human, of Earth. This will force some unconventional alliances (realised I first wrote maliances, and we need to watch for those also), it's certainly happening here NZ, and the right wing are stirring racism and division.

Learn to recognise division in all its forms; most people, in most places, left to ourselves, we rub along, not perfect but that's life. I think that division seldom arises without a divisor, identifying and nullifying them early will be key.

On another and happier note I retweeted this little guy yesterday who didn't seem to get the memo about "I'm too small to change anything".
posted by unearthed at 2:13 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Mod note: To help understanding here, a bit: There is no weird cultic "positive vibes only" edict. But climate change discussions tend to suck, and usually in exactly the same way: near immediate, often extremely cruel, lashing out at other people (regular ordinary people; here, fellow members), and "Welp, that's it, mankind is doomed, we're all going to die screaming, conversation over," and "we're all dying; good, I cheer the extinction of humans," and "welp, if you have kids, it sucks to be you, I guess," or "if you have kids, you are why we're all going to die," or "if you are [some age older than me], you, personally, are the reason we are all going to die," or "if you have pro/anti opinions of [my hobbyhorse topic], you are the reason we are all going to die." Etc. Etc. If that's the sort of non-cultic conversation you're looking for, I do think this isn't the best place for it, and also that it is probably really, really easy to find elsewhere. What isn't easy to find is discussion and analyses that are helpful for deeper understanding of the situation, clearing up misapprehensions or disinformation, introducing new information, evaluating sources, pointing out action / activism opportunities and projects, etc. None of which has to be cheery or optimistic — but it's the sort of thing many people hope to find here. The other hostile, inter-personal combative stuff is what drives a lot people away from any climate change thread, and that's a shame because there are people sharing important information. Sorry for the long note, but it would be good to preserve the ability to discuss this topic here.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:30 AM on August 10 [28 favorites]


I have been working in the teaching/trying to inform/activism/systems thinking/ecological design/policy change/signing petitions/writing emails/making phone calls/ecological restoration/local farming/urban ag/resource use/ecological collapse/climate change for 35 years. As we can all see, the work of all of us trying to shift the directions of human systems has been an utter failure.

I am teaching a 7 weekend course this year (one a month, 5 done and 2 more left) around all of the above topics, including hands on experiential learning, working with our dear generous mother earth. Today I need to call one of the participants who has 2 young children and check in with her because I saw her hit an emotional wall on Sunday. Over the past decades I have had to council people who have realized how bad things are, and weep. And I really don’t know what to say.

My father is a retired climate scientist (for the US Navy), so it was a household discussion when I was growing up (in the early 80’s) Having been the doom sayer for a long time, I am acutely aware that I have been a totaL BUMMER. A total annoyance. A gadfly. A pain-in-the-ass.

But here we are. So what is next? I am constantly processing anger, grief, sadness. I have fake conversations in my head with the powerful people who have shut me up, told me I was an extremist, that I was crazy etc.

These days I work in a very progressive setting in a very progressive region (upstate NY), where there is tons of good work happening to establish resiliency and local systems YAY! But there is also a particular form of denial that is difficult for me to deal with—that we can meditate our way out of this. Like it is a metaphysical problem more that a geophysical problem.

Anyway, as we have 4 days of dangerous heat coming, I will do what I can, drink loads of electrolytes, and keep going.

Heads high and hearts open!
posted by tarantula at 4:49 AM on August 10 [13 favorites]


I consider myself very pragmatic and grounded in how I view climate change; it is considered “too negative” for most conversations if I really get into it because the reality is very, very grim.

That said, there are far more interesting and important points to be made than “we’re doomed” and leaving it at that. But I agree with the others who feel hopeless about it, who don’t trust the idea that we’ll actually take any substantive collective political action on this issue and who feel strongly we are staring at terrifying near term experiences and realities.

And yet…I read “hope in the dark” and have to say that part of the issue is one of expectations, I think. On both sides. Expecting we’ll just somehow fix the issue without taking any steps ourselves is plainly wrong. Believing that we’re completely doomed and giving up is bad, too. It’s not about calculating your carbon footprint and buying credits, but being active locally and with state/federal leaders to encourage our political leaders to take this seriously.

Is there a guarantee it will change anything? Of course not, but we know not doing anything definitely won’t make a damn bit of difference.

We have to hope for a solution without believing someone else somewhere magically will develop a deux ex machina carbon sucker 3000. We have to be the solution. We must hope that small actions, little victories and hard work will, with enough of us, gather enough momentum for meaningful change.
posted by glaucon at 7:03 AM on August 10 [10 favorites]


Doesn't MeFi have a Screaming Thread? I think a thread like that would be a perfectly cromulent place to express one's doomy feelings; they need expressing. I just don't want it happening on every single climate change thread, because I think it actively keeps people from working towards change, and it was definitely happening here.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 7:07 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


In case you were feeling hopeful remember that this is all happening with a big lag. The effects we’re seeing right now are from the much lower levels of carbon emissions from the 90s.

Luckily the latest scientific thinking is that this not the case and that the lag between emissions and warming is much shorter than previously thought. That means that a year or two after we reach global net zero, new warming stops. So we've got that.

Other reasons to be hopeful: solar PV in good locations will soon be the cheapest electricity not just available but ever produced. The cost of solar and wind continues to go down. We have the technology package to decarbonise between 70% and 90% of electricity (the range depends on the availability of local renewables and peak load patterns) for most of the world's consumption. Likewise about 2/3s of surface transport, we know what to do and we just need to do it.

Nonetheless I think it is not likely that we will keep warming under 1.5C, however that is no reason to stop putting our shoulders to the wheel and fighting for every tenth of a degree.
posted by atrazine at 7:21 AM on August 10 [10 favorites]




Emily Atkin has a take that lines up well with the conflicting emotions about this report and the resulting (and not resulting) conversation.
posted by meinvt at 8:45 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


For some ideas on what can be done, there are a few interesting replies to a Twitter query, "What are the best nonprofits or charities working to change climate back?"
posted by PhineasGage at 8:52 AM on August 10


The response to COVID kinda killed any hope I had.

The delay from infection to visible symptoms is less than 15 days and people still found ways to deny it existed and now refuse to get vaccinated or do anything about it. The lag between action and result for Climate Change is years, even decades.

"You have to change the way you live for the rest of your life but you won't see any benefits from doing it" is a very hard thing to sell.
posted by simmering octagon at 9:20 AM on August 10 [6 favorites]


Members of an informed and concerned public blaming and policing each-other's emotions is a curated paid for phenomena that distracts, divides and decieves. Your hope, your fear, your despair, your opinions and emotions are not the cause or solution to global ecological collapse. Culturally financially militarily powerful groups who make decisions about coal mines and power plants, forest clear cuts and slave labor.... these people knowingly choose this path to enrich themselves and fuck over the rest of us. Your votes, protests, petitions, shopping choices and feelings are ornamentation on an industrial system that curates your choices, owns everything, and is high on its own supply. You dont control Exxon Mobile, the Dod or KSA regardless of your tiny stock portfolio, canvas shopping bag and passport.

This IPCC report is important because it validates the warnings of those from the 4 previous iterations that were saying these projections were too conservative, that the feedbacks /tipping points exist and are near.

Emissions are going up not down. This is not progress. They have to stop climbing, decline to zero and go negative globally for a few centuries even as more and more former natural carbon sinks slow or reverse and become emitters. Even as deadzones and wildfires spread.

You are free to hope or despair. If you own a refinery or command a military feel free to mothball it and watch some other group of psychopaths take advantage of your actions.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 10:48 AM on August 10 [9 favorites]


The response to COVID kinda killed any hope I had.

That's interesting, because the world response to this pandemic has given me hope. Around the world people and governments implemented difficult policies to maintain social distance, while we then proceeded to develop a novel vaccine at an unprecedented speed and scale. Together these activities saved tens, if not hundreds of millions of lives. I mean I get it, anti-vaccers and conspiracy theories and shitty authoritarian governments, but did we expect this was going to be easy? In the end, international science and co-operation are fighting, and slowly defeating a pandemic. We've never done anything like this before.

Sometimes I worry I'm too optimistic, but other times I think that other people have unrealistic expectations about how other people and political powers are likely to behave. I mean yes, as a scientist, vegetarian, and left-wing urbanite without a driver's license, it's been easy for me to accept for decades that climate change is real and the major threat of our time. For other people, whose lifestyles and worldviews are much more directly threatened, it is not so easy. Politics is slow, people are selfish, and power corrupts. I believe these things, and also hope for and love humanity.

Socially, industrially, politically, and culturally, there's a lot of good happening, and I feel confident that we're going to avoid the worst scenarios presented by the IPCC (which are pretty apocalyptic). I'm also doubtful that we'll follow the ideal path, and keep warming below 1.5C. There's still a huge space in there for better and worse futures. Recent (and rapid) technological advances are making good scenarios eminently possible, and governments are working (if haltingly) towards achieving these scenarios. Whether we're doomed or not is a distraction. The question is rather, how fast is this work happening, and thus: how many coastal cities will we lose? How much of the earth is going to become nigh-uninhabitable? How disrupted will our food and supply chains be? How long will it be before future generations can expect standards of living that we now enjoy? The world is not going to end, but we have a long, hard road ahead of us.
posted by Alex404 at 11:09 AM on August 10 [12 favorites]


I'm 47 and this year I'm a single-issue voter. I'm in a country where smaller parties matter, and this year's election (and probably every election for the rest of my life) I'm voting Green. According to the latest poll, I'm not alone, and younger people are joining the party in large(ish) numbers. We need to patch up the leaking boat now, not re-arrange the deck chairs or whatever.
posted by Harald74 at 11:47 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


It is very unfortunate that old articles from months or even years ago are being shared here as evidence that "things are not as bad as you think". Even ignoring that none of these articles were written after AR6 was published this week, I would be very surprised if the writers of these articles have visited many of the places already being devastated by climate change in the last few years.

This is an excellent analysis and summary of IPCC AR6. I think it is a far better analysis to read than just about anything else on the topic.

Of course, it is quite long, but then again, I'm not sure how much you can really take away from a short summary of a ~4,000 page report.
posted by Ouverture at 4:53 PM on August 10 [11 favorites]


The temperature range above preindustrial levels we are currently headed to in the lifetime of those born today is 4-6C. Massive departures from business as usual are needed to bend that curve down to an only disasterprone 2C. 1.5C is only within the margin of uncertainty of the most ambitious reductions scenario coupled with as of yet not invented scalable renewable negative emissions tech.

We are causing a mass die off of terrestrial and aquatic and oceanic species mammals avian insects plants etc with aberrantly high rates of extinction -- whats the point of waiting until all the threatened species are gone before calling this mass extinction a mass extinction? Compulsory positive thinking?


In the counterfactual and geophysically impossible scenario where all human emissions stop and all human triggered natural emissions (permafrost albedo wildfire etc) stop, that one study shows optimistically that warming will rise for only *plural decades* before stabilizing at a higher temperature. I.e. a study says its not a run-away scenario when atmospheric ghg peaks. Our actions matter always but pretending that the feedback on our remediation will be swift and complete is deciptive. We must halt emissions and deal with the damaged climate
One doesnt spare us from the other.

Will ghg concentrations peak, are we making progress? no we are still increasing ghg in the atmosphere, by more now than ever before. We are speeding away from our goal ever faster. The people who tell you we are making progress as the problem gets worse are mislead or lying to slow you down.
or believe you need to be told the problem "on easy mode" so you dont stop believing in their underpowered efforts.

Some humans fucked over all humans and most species. no magic combination of words to or from the peasants slaves and victims of this economic death cult were going to convince the masters owners warlords to stop benefiting from it. We didnt fail. Awareness of the environmental problem wasnt the obstacle, it was awareness of the real system of power that was missing. The people who believed the propaganda murals about democracy and markets got played just as effectively as the denialists got played. The denialists falsely believed the pollution wasnt a problem, the activists and believers falsely believed that majorities of public opinion, votes and self interesr would alter the decisions of those who run political and economic institutions.

Persuade or replace the powerful and their system of power and try to crash land this trainwreck to slow and reduce the harm, facilitate the survival of as many peoples cultures species and varieties as possible and hope the fools maintaining the nuclear reactors weapons mines and wastedumps can keep their leaking genie bottles closed long enough for the surface not to get sterilized of all higher lifeforms.

Your optimism and pessimism are not the problem, your fidelity to recycling and carpooling are not the problem. Your flights and family size and meaty meals were barely the problem. You emitted more by working diligently for your employer, paying your taxes to the military machine and your obedience to a system of private property rights that extracted from other peoples lands all this stored carbon and used it to arms-race and industrialize the psychopathic elite be they dictators ceos presidents or commies, capitalists, nationalists or socialists. They were industrialists fuelled by fossils and they burned the world down in decades.

/rant.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 7:25 PM on August 10 [13 favorites]


The latest Gen Dread newsletter offers many "Resources for working with climate emotions."
posted by PhineasGage at 4:32 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


The temperature range above preindustrial levels we are currently headed to in the lifetime of those born today is 4-6C. Massive departures from business as usual are needed to bend that curve down to an only disasterprone 2C. 1.5C is only within the margin of uncertainty of the most ambitious reductions scenario coupled with as of yet not invented scalable renewable negative emissions tech.

There are five main scenarios in the latest IPCC report. They are (with their 2041-2060 and end of century temperature ranges) - and my qualitative view of them.

SSP1-1.9 (1.6/1/4) - this is basically the 1.5C scenario now rapidly receding
SSP1-2.6 (1.7/1.8) - compatible with 2C
SSP2-4.5 (2.0/2.7) - Middle of the road case
SSP3-7.0 (2.1/3.6) - Likely worst case
SSP5-8.5 (2.4/4.4) - Extreme case with virtually no mitigation

The Climate Action Tracker currently has the global position based on current policies as 2.9C (targets at 2.4C). This puts us somewhere between SSP2-4.5 and SSP3-7.0. It is bad enough that we are where we are without claiming that 4-6C is likely when it is not. The passage of time and the adoption of technology goes both ways in locking in pathways - it is true that every year that goes by makes SSP1-1.9 less likely (because we are not doing enough) but it is also true that every year makes SSP5-8.5 less likely because that also isn't compatible with observed developments. Nonetheless, SSP3-7.0 which was developed to represent the likely consequences of insufficient action is bad enough.

In the counterfactual and geophysically impossible scenario where all human emissions stop and all human triggered natural emissions (permafrost albedo wildfire etc) stop, that one study shows optimistically that warming will rise for only *plural decades* before stabilizing at a higher temperature. I.e. a study says its not a run-away scenario when atmospheric ghg peaks. Our actions matter always but pretending that the feedback on our remediation will be swift and complete is deciptive. We must halt emissions and deal with the damaged climate
One doesnt spare us from the other.


That one study (ZECMIP) compared 18 different models and confirms something that was widely considered likely before that time. It was a bit too late to make it into the IPCC CMIP6 model but does get a mention in the overall report. There was a range of outcomes from +0.3C to -0.3C of additional warming over the next 50 years after emissions reach net zero so ok, fair to say that it's not a sure thing just because the central estimate was zero but all the models do consistently show that the rate of warming slows down very quickly. The exact time course is complicated because of the effects of methane, sulphates, etc. which all have different half lives and also depends on models of the absorption capacity of natural carbon sinks.

Will ghg concentrations peak, are we making progress? no we are still increasing ghg in the atmosphere, by more now than ever before. We are speeding away from our goal ever faster. The people who tell you we are making progress as the problem gets worse are mislead or lying to slow you down.
or believe you need to be told the problem "on easy mode" so you dont stop believing in their underpowered efforts.


Obviously it is the case that only total concentration matters and it is true that this continues to increase. Nonetheless, if we want to forecast likely futures, we do want to look at a few time derivatives of concentration, at how those vary between regions, and at what drives those.

Just looking visually at this dataset: https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions from 1950 to present:

-The first derivative of concentration, emissions, is shown. It continues to be positive which it will until we reach a zero net emissions position. Ok, that's bad.

-The second derivative, rate of increase of emissions can be clearly seen visually. It is at its highest / the curve is steepest in the early 2000s, there is then a dip due to the financial crisis, a recovery... and then it looks like it starts to flatten.

In the UK, the US, and some EU countries, emissions whether territorial or consumption based have already peaked. The problem is they have peaked at a high level and are only slowly declining but it does show that it is possible and shows how it can be done.

That doesn't mean we should pop the champagne, but it does mean that the increase in annual emissions may be over or nearly over. That is a start at least.

I am very happy to say that I am one of the people telling others that we are making progress. I'm not clear who you think is being slowed down? The people that spend their lives thinking about this and trying to solve it aren't sitting back and saying, "job's a good 'un lads, we're making progress so we're fine". From a purely tactical point of view, yes, I certainly spend less time talking about how much work is left to do than I do talking optimistically about the package of technologies we have available to solve it. That's because it has been my experience that most climate "denialists" are not of the kind who don't believe it's real but people who don't think there's a solution, through cognitive dissonance they switch their brains off so they don't have to spend their lives screaming about it. The reality is that we have the technology to easily make SSP3-7.0 and almost certainly SSP2-4.5 without a substantial change in people's lifestyle. I would rather get the money and effort committed to that and then push for more aggressive targets later, once the powers of global capital have aligned their interests with it, than convince people all at once.
posted by atrazine at 8:48 AM on August 11 [8 favorites]


Doesn't MeFi have a Screaming Thread? I think a thread like that would be a perfectly cromulent place to express one's doomy feelings; they need expressing. I just don't want it happening on every single climate change thread, because I think it actively keeps people from working towards change, and it was definitely happening here.

A MetaTalk thread for this very function has just opened.
posted by Wordshore at 8:52 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


we are still increasing ghg in the atmosphere, by more now than ever before. We are speeding away from our goal ever faster. The people who tell you we are making progress as the problem gets worse are mislead or lying to slow you down.

100% this.

The reality is that we have the technology to easily make SSP3-7.0 and almost certainly SSP2-4.5 without a substantial change in people's lifestyle.

This is insane.
posted by Bangaioh at 8:55 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


The reality is that we have the technology to easily make SSP3-7.0 and almost certainly SSP2-4.5 without a substantial change in people's lifestyle.

The lifestyles of billions of people are already "substantially changed" for the cataclysmically worse. It is not an act of kindness for Westerners to think they can keep enjoying the fruits of limitless growth on a dying planet.
posted by Ouverture at 9:56 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


The planet's not dying, it's seen much worse before and will be fine. Humans are the ones that will die.
posted by biogeo at 11:00 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


This is insane.

I meant with no change to consumption behaviour, obviously SSP3 and probably SSP2 are not compatible with almost anyone continuing to live the way they do now and the degree of warming which we already have is already disrupting the lives of at least a few hundred million people.

It would obviously be insane to accept that level of warming and the horrific consequences that would entail so the world's richest people can keep flying to Thailand twice a year and driving big trucks. To be clear, that's not what I'm suggesting. I personally think that a 1.5C target is unambitious compared to the scope of possibility and entails writing off as degraded a substantial part of the surface of the Earth. 1.5C was a compromise position, like telling people to eat five servings of fruit or vegetables when you know they should have double that but fuck-it you know many people are eating zero.

My point is not that "we have the path worked out to do X easily, therefore we should just to X" but that we *already* have ready to be deployed the technology to do X and therefore we need to get on with doing that. That's without making hydrogen, or new nuclear, or CCS, or new battery chemistries, or convincing Bud and Chud to give up their big trucks (or Oliver and Tamara to give up their frequent international travel) all of which things should also be done.
posted by atrazine at 11:00 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


The planet's not dying, it's seen much worse before and will be fine. Humans are the ones that will die.

Well yeah, but the certain knowledge that a post human planet will eventually reach a new and fascinating equilibrium with all kinds of new species is not much consolation when your harvest fails.
posted by atrazine at 11:02 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Rebecca Watson reports on the IPCC report from her bed.
posted by biogeo at 11:03 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


"...we *already* have ready to be deployed the technology to do X and therefore we need to get on with doing that. "

'Why aren't you turning the tortoise over, Leon?'
posted by symbioid at 11:49 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


The planet's not dying, it's seen much worse before and will be fine. Humans are the ones that will die.

Even with very incomplete attribution modeling, millions of humans have already died. And it's not just humans who are already dying, it is all manner of life:
We examine 29,400 species of terrestrial vertebrates, and determine which are on the brink of extinction because they have fewer than 1,000 individuals. There are 515 species on the brink (1.7% of the evaluated vertebrates). Around 94% of the populations of 77 mammal and bird species on the brink have been lost in the last century. Assuming all species on the brink have similar trends, more than 237,000 populations of those species have vanished since 1900. We conclude the human-caused sixth mass extinction is likely accelerating for several reasons. First, many of the species that have been driven to the brink will likely become extinct soon. Second, the distribution of those species highly coincides with hundreds of other endangered species, surviving in regions with high human impacts, suggesting ongoing regional biodiversity collapses. Third, close ecological interactions of species on the brink tend to move other species toward annihilation when they disappear—extinction breeds extinctions. Finally, human pressures on the biosphere are growing rapidly, and a recent example is the current coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, linked to wildlife trade. Our results reemphasize the extreme urgency of taking much-expanded worldwide actions to save wild species and humanity’s crucial life-support systems from this existential threat.
Yes, in tens or hundreds of millions of years, the beauty of biodiversity will eventually come back to this planet. But it won't be us or anything we know today (except for maybe cockroaches and mosquitos).
posted by Ouverture at 12:18 PM on August 11 [6 favorites]


UK Met Office blog post: Syracuse, in Sicily, has provisionally exceeded the previous European highest temperature with a record of 48.8°C yesterday. If the record is confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, this temperature will break the previous record of 48.0°C in Athens in 1977. It will also raise concerns that even higher temperatures are potential in future, possibly even exceeding 50.0C.
posted by Wordshore at 2:09 PM on August 12


Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak in the next four years, coal and gas-fired power plants must close in the next decade and lifestyle and behavioural changes will be needed to avoid climate breakdown.
...
Rich people in every country are overwhelmingly more responsible for global heating than the poor, with SUVs and meat-eating singled out for blame, and the high-carbon basis for future economic growth is also questioned.
...
Technology to capture and store carbon dioxide has not progressed rapidly enough to play a major role yet, the report also finds, but technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would almost certainly be needed to hold heating to 1.5C.
"Group of scientists release draft IPCC report as they fear it will be watered down by governments"
posted by simmering octagon at 7:28 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


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